ALPINE, Texas- 416 miles west of Belton, the UMHB women’s basketball team went down to the wire with Sul Ross State on Thursday night, but came out on the losing end, as the Lobos shot 61.5 percent in the second half, and pulled out a 77-74 victory.
UMHB is now 14-6 overall, and 9-4 in American Southwest Conference play, while SRSU improves its season record under first-year head coach E.J. Lee Smith to 13-8, 9-5 in the ASC. Thursday’s contest was UMHB’s third game under interim head coach Kendra Foreman.
After trailing 74-68 with 1:21 left in the ASC duel, Weade Adeleke connected on a three-pointer, getting the Crusaders within three points. Vania Hampton again extended the Lobos’ lead 16 seconds later, but Arieona Rosborough responded for UMHB in the form of another three-pointer, this one cutting SRSU’s advantage to just two. Though UMHB had two chances at a three-point try, trailing 77-74, in the final 10 seconds, neither fell through, giving SRSU its sixth home victory of the year.
Lauren Baker gave UMHB its first points of the evening exactly a minute into the contest, connecting on a jump-shot just 10 seconds before SRSU went down the floor and countered with a layup of its own. Neither team had any sort of remarkable scoring run in the first 10 minutes, though UMHB did lead by as many as six when Payton Hicks’ driving layup fell through the net.
The early minutes of the second quarter widened the Cru’s advantage from just three to nine by the 5:48 mark, when Arieona Rosborough swished a second straight free throw for a 28-19 lead. The Lobos promptly fired back with 10 straight points of their own, taking the lead, 29-28, just before Foreman called timeout. Ashley Faux and Weade Adeleke scored on back-to-back possessions coming out of the break, but it was SRSU who led 34-32 at the half.
UMHB’s offensive attack caught fire in the third, as the Crusaders came away with points on each of the first six possessions, highlighted by Arieona Rosborough’s three-pointer that made it a four-point lead for the visitors from Belton. But the 49-45 advantage was quickly erased by SRSU, who mounted a 9-0 run that flipped the momentum, giving the Lobos a 58-54 lead heading into the fourth.
From there, a back-and-forth final quarter played out, with UMHB shooting 30 percent and SRSU shooting 46 percent. Rosborough tallied a team-high 26 points on an 8-of-19 shooting day, and Baker added 18. Adeleke had 16 and Faux pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds.
The offensive rhythm was a positive in Alpine
Though the Cru ended up on the losing end, shooting 40 percent from the field was a highlight. It marked the first time since the win over McMurry on Jan. 14 that UMHB converted on at least 40 percent of its shots. In addition to that number, the Crusaders were 7-of-21 from 3-point range, which marked their highest 3-point shooting percentage since the Jan. 5 win at Ozarks.
“The past few days in practice, we had been shooting really well,” UMHB interim head coach Kendra Foreman said postgame. “I’m really happy about that, especially with traveling and the ice storm. We could get pretty much [any shot] we wanted, it was just a matter of executing. I told the girls, ‘Go shoot with confidence.’ That’s what they did.”
But, SRSU had an equally, if not better, offensive showing
The defensive end of the floor was where the Crusaders struggled, as the Lobos shot 45.3 percent and had 40 points in the paint. Four players scored in double figures for SRSU, led by Hampton, who had 16 points. And as SRSU repeatedly drove to the rim, it resulted in more foul calls against UMHB, and more trips to the free throw line. The hosts shot 29 free throws, making 18 of them, while UMHB had just 15 chances at the line, with 11 going through the net.
“They were using their athleticism to get to the rim, but they also shot 29 free throws,” Foreman noted. “A lot of their points came [at the line]. If we would’ve kept them off the line, we probably would’ve come out with the win.”
Improvements heading into Saturday’s duel in Brownwood?
Heading into Saturday’s matchup with Howard Payne (0-13 ASC), Foreman was asked if there were any areas that she especially will be looking to see improvement in. One aspect she mentioned was in the rebounding battle, which SRSU won, 44-40. The Lobos had 15 offensive rebounds, which was seven above what the UMHB coaching staff’s goal had been entering the contest.
“It’s always details,” Foreman said. “If we slip, it’s probably going to come back and haunt us. We could’ve been better on the glass tonight. One of our keys was to only allow eight offensive rebounds; we gave up 15. If we had done that, it would’ve taken away the second-chance points, and we needed to be more engaged with it. But we have to flush it out and have a transfer of learning. And execute the little things.”